Sunday, November 24, 2019

Images From the Sky

Image result for horses in sky clouds

Roughly three weeks ago, I was able to remember just a tiny fragment of one of my dreams.  I remember the distinctive image of a massive horse coming out of the clouds in the sky.  The horse seemed to be surrounded by a glow of purplish color.  I can't remember the rest of the dream.  

Of course, I have heard and read about the Four Horsemen in the Bible.  I am certainly no expert on the Bible.  I didn't know much about the Four Horsemen except that they are somehow associated with something vaguely apocalyptic.  

In fact, the Four Horsemen, described in detail in Revelations 6:1-8, written by John of Patmos. 

The scene is set when the author describes what he has seen.  He saw God on his throne in Heaven, surrounded by thousands of angels and strange winged creatures, holding a scroll held firmly closed with seven (wax) seals in his right hand.  The "Lamb" (Jesus) is considered the only one heavenly entity worthy enough to open the scroll to read its contents.  As each seal is broken, a new catastrophic event or series of events is unleashed on mankind.  The first four of these seven seals are symbolized by each of the Four Horsemen.

The First Horse is a white horse.  Its rider holds an archer's bow and he wears a crown.  "He rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest." (Rev. 6:2).  Unlike the other three horses, the symbolism of the white horse is very ambiguous.  The actual language of Revelations suggests that this represents the Spirit of Conquest.  It has also been suggested that the white horse could represent Christ, the antichrist and the false promise of peace.  I would interpret it as follows: The white horse represents the promise of purity to conquer and vanquish the evils of mankind.  The ambiguity lies in whether this white "purity" will fulfill its promise.  There seems to be a hidden threat in the lack of clarity.  How will humanity respond?  Will mankind be able to maintain a global peace if it harbors ill-will and deception underneath the stated intentions?  Or will the lies of humans create a "false peace"? The White Horse represents conquest by deception. 

For me, there is an element reminiscent of the Trojan Horse in the Biblical White Horse.  The famous Trojan Horse wooden statue created a curiosity and deception that allowed the Greek warriors, hidden inside the strange horse, to create a diversion and then conquer the independent city of Troy.  Did you ever wonder why the best-known brand name for condoms - "Trojans" - allows the man the enter deceptively into the independent domain of the woman?  No one ever taught me this juicy thought.

The Second Horse is a "fiery red" horse (Rev. 6:3).  This Red Horse has a rider who "was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other."  This rider carries a very large sword.  The Red Horse is universally regarded as representing war and death - presumably the creator of some kind of civil war or war among nations where "men slay each other."  In other words, the Red Horseman provokes war - but does not kill humanity himself.  Like the White Horseman, he is a catalyst, instigator or provocateur of bad behavior.  His job is to wreak havoc and fear, causing men to kill each other.  The Red Horseman doesn't do the actual killing.  The Red Horseman doesn't get his hands dirty.

The Third Horse is the Black Horse (Rev. 6:5-6).  The rider carries a "pair of scales" in his hand. The scales, similar to the "scales of justice" held in the hand of the Statue of Liberty, are considered to refer to market food scales with small stones representing the counter-weights.  The Black Horseman is interpreted to represent famine.  A celestial voice is heard to say: "A quart of wheat for a day's wages, and three quarts of barley for a day's wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine."  Biblical scholars have suggested that one quart of wheat would be enough for only one person and three quarts of the less nutritious barley would barely be enough for small family.  Famine would drive the prices up to ten times their normal level.   Many scholars have interpreted this horseman as also being the cause or harbinger of droughts that cause the famines.

As I see it, the Black Horseman doesn't overtly cause the famine.  The famine is caused, once again, by mankind - and only indirectly by the Horseman.  Humans hike up the price of food and cause people who cannot afford to pay, to starve to death. 

The Fourth Horse is very different from the other horses (Rev. 6:7-8).  The Fourth Horse is a Pale Horse.  Of course, as we know, "pale" is just a description of a color, but not a color itself!  It evokes the image of a ghost, not a living being.  The word "pale" is described in the dictionary as being "almost colorless" - in other words, without living vitality.  The rider of the Pale Horse is the only one given a name.  The rider's name is "Death" and he is followed closely behind by "Hades," the Greek god of the underworld.  Strange, it seems to me, that the Christian prophet would evoke the name of a (pagen) Greek god!  Perhaps this was to underline the hopelessness of the termination of life for people who would not be redeemed by their Savior, the Lamb, Jesus Christ.  

At any rate, the Pale Horseman is given  "power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth."  From my perspective, the Pale Horseman is the only one of the Four Horsemen who has the actual power and authority to inflict direct pain, suffering and death upon mankind.  It is almost as if the other three Horsemen have the power of persuasion, temptation and influence to wreak havoc, but the Pale Horseman takes all of their powers and can use them directly to kill off a quarter of the human race!

After the four seals are broken and the Four Horsemen revealed, the fifth seal is broken and reveals that the souls of those slain in the name of God seek vengeance in the form of the Final Judgment against mankind (Rev. 6:9-11).  The sixth seal is broken and terrible global catastrophes are unleashed (Rev. 6:12-17) including earthquakes, a blood red moon, a black sun, stars crashing into the earth, and mountains and islands destroyed.  While the world leaders and populations tried to hide in caves.  The angels called out to stop the destruction long enough to save 144,000 humans who received the "seal of the Living God" on their foreheads.  Then the mystical seventh seal is broken and all hell breaks loose on the planet. Locusts, looking oddly like "horses prepared for battle," are released to kill off mankind.  Then an army of angels are released to kill mankind, then a plague of fire, smoke and sulfur, then earthquakes killing seven thousand people.  Jesus is then seen standing on Mount Zion with the 144,000 saved individuals who sing a song that only those who were redeemed were capable of learning.  And so on.  

The impure are murdered by paranormal events, and the pure are saved.  Jesus returns and the spiritual aspect of the planet has been swept clean of impurities.  A fresh start. 

And so, to return to my dream in which a galloping horse appeared coming out of the clouds surrounded by a strange, purple glow, I am left to wonder if this is not perhaps a prophetic dream of the coming of the Pale Horse.  

What is interesting is that the author of Revelations (who wrote in the first century A.D.) was influenced by the horse imagery, according to scholars, of another earlier prophet, a 6th century BC Babylonian priest and prophet, Zechariah. In Zechariah's vision, he looked up and saw four horse-drawn chariots coming out from between two mountains.

"The first chariot had red horses, the second black, the third white, and the fourth dappled - all of them powerful.  I asked the angel who was speaking to me, 'What are these, my lord?'  The angel answered me, 'These are the four spirits of heaven, going out from standing in the presence of the Lord of the whole world.  The one with the black horses is going toward the north country, the one with the white horses toward the west, and the one with the dappled horses toward the south." (Zec 6:1-8). (Strangely, the angel forgets to mention the red horses which, obviously, are going toward the east!)

Zechariah's equating the differently colored horses to the four different directions (east, west, south, north) reminds me of the traditional Native American Medicine Wheel or Sacred Hoop.  The number "4" (which also features prominently in these Biblical writings) is considered a sacred number by Native Americans (seasons, earth elements, human races, compass directions, stages of life).  

The Medicine Wheel typically features four colors: black, yellow, red and white. Red/south, black/west, white/north and yellow/east.  The correlation between colors and compass directions is not the same.  However, the notion of four spiritual colors is the same for the Native Americans, Zechariah and Revelations. 

Most interesting of all, is that the only color that varies in all three accounts is that of the Pale Horse. It is described in Zechariah as "dappled" and in Native American culture as "yellow."   These are variations on the color white. It is almost as if this "spirit" of nature, this aspect of power, this force of Heaven, cannot accurately be described or envisioned.  We all have trouble imagining death.  We only see it as a kind of "disappearance" from life.  It is as if a shade of one of life's colors begins to fade away from us.  That is why "pale" and "dappled" only describe the shade but not the color.

My horse in the clouds was, I believe, a repetition of a warning for mankind.  A kind of modern-day prophecy.  In a world where we have become increasingly "impure" in mind, body and spirit, and our desires have become aggressive and intolerant, we are clearly approaching the wars and climate destruction that causes droughts, earthquakes, fires and famines, without any need for direct intervention from the "angels."  It is all indirect - just like three of the Four Horsemen.  The Four Horsemen have merely been unleashed from the heavens to prod us further into our own self-destruction that will surely result in mass extinctions of the human race as the Pale Horse finally enters the spiritual arena.  

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